Campaign Updates

On 18 September 2018, the hearing took place. Five witnesses were absent, preventing cross-examination by the defense, and only two witness statements were read aloud. The key witness, Khom Chandaraty, and her lawyer, were absent; the court claimed that she had changed her address and that her lawyer was sick.

On 26 September 2018, the five were found guilty of Bribery of a Witness and sentenced to five years imprisonment. With their pre-trial detention period counting as time-served and the remainder of their sentences suspended, the five walked free. Following the verdict, civil society organizations raised their concerns about the convictions, calling for the charges to be dropped.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, Ny Chakrya was charged with Defamation, Malicious Denunciation and Publication of Commentaries Intended to Unlawfully Coerce Judicial Authorities (offenses under articles 305, 311 and 522 of the Cambodian Criminal Code), in relation to statements made in his previous role at ADHOC, regarding the arrest of two villagers involved in a land dispute in Siem Reap. The case was heard by the Supreme Court on 26 September 2018.

On 1 October 2018, the Supreme Court referred Chakrya’s case back to the Court of Appeal, explaining that a re-trial was necessary due to insufficient evidence. Ny Chakrya was sentenced to six months in prison and a six million riel fine (approximately USD 1,500) by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 22 September 2016.

At the time of trial on 27 August 2018, two of the defendants, Ny Sokha and Lim Mony, had not received a summons to appear. Several key witnesses were also absent. As a result, following a request from the Defence, the trial was postponed.

The hearing is now scheduled to take place on Tuesday 18 September 2018, at 7.30 am at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. All five defendants have now received a summons to appear.

On 12 August 2018, Nay Vanda, ADHOC’s former Deputy Head of Human Rights and Monitoring Section and current Head of Administration, received a summons to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in relation to charges of Bribery of a Witness (article 548 of the Criminal Code). Nay Vanda, together with Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Lim Mony and Ny Chakrya spent 14 months in arbitrary pre-trial detention from April 2016 to June 2017 in relation to these charges.

Subsequently, Ny Chakrya, a National Election Committee official and former ADHOC staff, and Yi Soksan, Senior Investigator at ADHOC, received summons for the same trial date. The summonses, issued by the Vice-Prosecutor, require them to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 7.30 am on 27 August 2018.

#Freethe5KH campaign welcomes the long-overdue release of the five human rights defenders after 14 months of arbitrary detention, and calls for all charges against them to be dropped

Phnom Penh, 30 June 2017 – The Freethe5KH campaign welcomes the long-overdue release of human rights defenders Ny Sokha, Yi Soksan, Nay Vanda, Lim Mony and Ny Chakrya, after 427 days of arbitrary pre-trial detention, and urges the authorities to drop all charges against them.

We are delighted to see our colleagues and friends restored to liberty and reunited with their loved ones. For over a year they have endured separation from their families, woeful prison conditions, and repeated denial of bail, despite the failure of the authorities to adduce any credible evidence to justify their continued detention.

On 29 June 2017 the Investigating Judge in their case issued a Closing Order, indicting the five to appear before the trial court. The four staff of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) face charges of bribing a witness, while Mr. Ny Chakrya, Deputy Secretary General of the National Election Committee and a former ADHOC staff member, is charged as an accomplice to the same offence. At the same time, the Investigating Judge decided to release the five from detention, imposing three bail conditions: the five must not change their place of residence without permission of the Court; they must not leave the country without permission of the Court; and they must respond to any further summons issued by the Court.

While we welcome the release of the five from prison as a positive step, they should never have been detained in the first place. The decision to impose pre-trial detention lacked any justifiable basis in Cambodian or international law; no credible evidence was presented to demonstrate that the exhaustive conditions in Article 205 of the Criminal Procedure Code were met; and these concerns could in any case have been addressed through the imposition of bail conditions.[1]

We call on the Cambodian authorities to drop the baseless charges against the five, as well as to overturn Mr. Ny Chakrya’s separate defamation and related convictions.[2] We will continue to call for the release of land activist and human rights defender Ms. Tep Vanny, who as of today has spent 319 days in prison following her arrest on 15 August 2017 while protesting for the five’s release.

[1] Joint Legal Analysis of the Pre-trial Detention of Mr. Ny Sokha, Mr. Yi Soksan, Mr. Nay Vanda, Ms. Lim Mony and Mr. Ny Chakrya (November 2016)

[2] Joint Statement: “CSOs condemn upholding of conviction of human rights defender Ny Chakrya” (14 December 2016)

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Please find attached the Press Release in English.